The Sea, The Sea

wild flowers in my gardenMy wildflower area is doing well, just as last year (though I’ve extended it). As you can see there are marigolds, sweet rocket, ox eye daisies and a few too many campion.

There will soon be very few lanes within 10 miles that I haven’t done by bike. On the way back from one ride around Lampeter Velfrey, a great area for quiet back lanes, I could see Lundy, 40 miles away. The photo lowest down on this post is of Lundy – look at the horizon and you’ll see how it goes up. That’s Lundy from near Ludchurch. The land in front, that the island of Lundy sort of echoes, is Caldey. For a phone camera, that isn’t bad really – 40 miles distant and most of the way to Devon.

Today was ideal for swimming in the sea – the water clarity seems to be improving to two or three feet. I swam ‘lengths’ in my wetsuit for 40 mins then had a cool swim in the shallows in swimshorts. Watersports are getting going even in lockdown – I’ve seen paddleboarding (from Wiseman’s Bridge to Saundersfoot, neat because you can leave the car at one end and easily walk back from t’other so you don’t have to do a circular route), windsurfing (lightish winds at Amroth, but great to see two windsurfers, with some planing in the occasional gust, possibly better earlier), saw lots of surfing at Wiseman’s in a brief spell of big waves, with a swell that was 20 feet of the end of Wales, I think the wave faces were about that at times. Not a place for my ‘minimal’ board… I’ve reduced my sea swimming due to a shoal of large barrel jellyfish. They don’t sting – and through my wetsuit it’s unlikely I’d notice if they did, but they are a bit of a size to bump into in the poor visibility of the local beach. It was clearer when I was in the sea last summer / autumn. Watersports do seem to be fine for social distancing, so long as you are well within your limits, and if you’ve a beach within a handful of miles it surely does offer a way to keep fit and even find a bit of sheer adrenalin and happiness.

lundy from ludchurch

As a former bus / train / bike commuter for about 15 years in Leeds / Bradford my sympathy goes out to the poor long suffering public transport user just at the moment. Commuting by bus or train is going to be difficult, so I’m glad I’ve stopped doing it. On the other hand, it’s unlikely there’ll be a mass transfer to cycling – two main reasons – firstly, the infrastructure isn’t there, councils have under invested for decades in cycling infrastructure, goodness knows how many meetings I’ve been to and how many petitions signed! Secondly the people I remember on my bus journey were travelling, mostly, about 9 or 10 miles from Bradford to Leeds (the X6 ‘express’ service, slower than my bike door to door). Very few would have been able to cycle that, and those that could have done mostly wouldn’t due to, top of their list, their perception of risk. The cycle ‘super’ highway didn’t persuade them so a few coronavirus tweaks to the roads isn’t going to do it. Lovely idea, that the virus could provide cheap salvation for our long term sin of failing to invest in bike infrastructure, but decades of underinvestment, poor road design and car focussed planning decisions are not overturned in a couple of months. The petrolheads are still running the show, make no mistake, things aren’t about to change. Real change would require taking road space from cars and handing it over to cyclists so they were segregated from cars, enforcing speed limits effectively, plus an expensive list of road junction alterations that made cycling safe and prioritised. Indeed, most people are desperate for a holiday, and in the absence of easy flying abroad they will get the car out and drive somewhere in the UK, so we’ll have bigger summer jams than usual. Cheap salvation from ecological meltdown is not available.

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